Posts Tagged ‘monty program’

The Hacking Business Model

Updated: Thu Oct 26 16:48:31 +08 2017 – the link has changed as the domain has expired.

Now that Monty Program is no more, we don’t have the Hacking Business Model to govern how we work. I wanted to reference it recently and asked Daniel Bartholomew and Bryan Alsdorf, and they’ve managed to put it up online at a new domain to ensure it will always live on: The Hacking Business Model. It will live on at

Immediate thoughts on Business Source Licensing

Sunrise at SanurI just got back from a vacation to see articles about Business Source Licensing. I’ve divided my thoughts into four parts here: Opensource and its merits, Is unpaid opensource usage bad?, MariaDB’s “Problem”, Business Source Licensing. If you haven’t read them yet, here’s some mandatory reading:

  1. Open source: Its true cost and where it’s going awry by Monty Widenius
  2. MySQL Co-Founder Wants You To Pay Up For Open Source

There is much abuzz on Twitter as well. From the likes of Mike Olson (who is right, MariaDB may have issues that are different to other OSS products – no two OSS projects/products are alike), to a lengthy conversation between Jim Jagielski & Matt Asay, as well as another conversation spurred by Matt Asay.

Now for some of my own commentary.

Opensource and its merits

Companies have been heavily using opensource and the reason they like this is because it is open. They don’t pay for licenses like proprietary software. They use opensource because they don’t have to pay for support, services, or anything around it. Countries have pro-opensource policies so that they can empower local citizens and further strengthen their sovereignty. This is what makes opensource popular: the fact that the software comes to you with many freedoms.

Is this bad for companies building businesses around opensource software products? Well, kind of. It means you have to provide real value before someone decides to pay you. And if for some reason you price yourself out of the market, companies choose to hire resources internally. This is the beauty of opensource. Many companies I know have started to use RHEL licenses from Red Hat; once they decide they see less value from the updates or the knowledgebase, they switch to CentOS at their next cycle. No problem there.

Is unpaid opensource usage bad?

I’m going to say that I disagree with Monty and think that he is wrong here:

“The more people are using it and, in these cases, abusing the whole idea of open source by not paying back either with development or money to help projects, it is actually destroying open source.”

I really don’t think opensource is destroyed by having many users and lacking corporate sponsors. This is the way of opensource and has been for a long time. Apple makes use of CUPS to ensure printing works – they did so long before they hired their main developer. We all benefitted from Samba which is how we talk to Windows printers/shares/etc. which had no real commercial company around it (Linuxcare, then IBM, then other providers funded the work). LibreOffice has always existed with lots of work by various distributors of (via the ooo-build system), which is why the project took off so fast.

MariaDB’s “problem”

When there is commercial need for opensource, the corporate sponsors will arise. It takes a long time to get to a stage where you are going to get profitable in an opensource services or infrastructure company. Red Hat didn’t get to a billion dollars overnight. Neither did MySQL.

I will not comment on the financials of Monty Program, SkySQL or how tough it has been to bootstrap the MariaDB project because I clearly am privy to information there. I am particularly proud of how we’ve done a relatively great job at getting MariaDB users and distribution, all on a bootstrap marketing/PR budget with no professional help :-) However, I will reminisce another day.

Simply put: if Oracle stopped producing opensource MySQL or decided that they would shut it down, there would be immediate need for MariaDB and the corporate sponsors would come in throngs. The truth is that Oracle continues to produce MySQL as an opensource product. It may not be a full opensource project (internal trees, delayed public pushes, private bugs database, internal mailing lists, etc.) that follows “the architecture of participation”, but it is still an opensource product. This is what has enabled people to take MySQL and extend it further. Look at the Facebook 5.6 tree, or the Twitter 5.5 tree.

There is talk about the dual-licenses that MySQL chose to use. I remember a time when the connectors were LGPL. They were then relicensed as GPL. They still are. But I think we effectively nipped this with the: MariaDB LGPL Java client, MariaDB C Client Library, and the BSD drizzle stuff.

Business Source Licensing

Now for the bits on business source:

“The whole idea with business source is actually very trivial. It is a commercial licence that is time-based and which will become open source after a given time, usually three years. But you can get access to all the source. You can use it in any way but the source has a comment that says you can use it freely except in these circumstances when you have to pay,” Widenius said.

“You’re forcing a small part of your user base to pay for the restrictions, which can be if you’re making money from [the software], if you have more than 100 employees, or you’re a big company or something like that. So you’re forcing one portion of your users to pay. But because it’s time-based, everybody knows that you can still contribute to the project,” he said.

“Because you have the code, you know that if the vendor does something stupid, somebody else can give you the support for it. So you get all the benefits of open source except that a small portion of users has to pay. As long as you continue to develop the project, each version still gets a new timeline of three years.”

Hmm. I see many people commenting that MariaDB might become business source licensed. I am here to tell you that MariaDB is GPLv2 software. It will stay GPLv2 software.

Reading the definition of business source licensing, it is nothing like what Matt Asay portrays it to be:

“Business source is simply proprietary software released under a Microsoft-esque shared source license that magically becomes fully open source after a period of time.”

I’m sorry but the description above is pretty clear. This is nothing like Microsoft shared source. It is code that becomes licensed under an OSI-friendly license after a time-period; however everyone using the software gets the code. How does one enforce payments? I don’t know. What are the conditions requiring you to pay? I don’t know.

At this stage, I am open to thoughts on such a licensing model but I have no firm thoughts on this myself. The best description of how this works is given above by Monty.

Update: Sun 2 Jun 2013 17:33:53 MYT Monty has an update on business source licensing in a comment on Matt Asay’s column.

Biggest MySQL related news in the last 24 hours, Day 2

Continuing on from yesterday, the biggest news that I’ve noted in the past 24 hours:

  1. The commitment from Oracle’s MySQL team to release a new GA about once every 24 months, with a Developer Milestone Release (DMR), with “GA quality” every 4-6 months. Tomas Ulin announced MySQL 5.7 DMR1 (milestone 11) [download, release notes, manual]. He also announced MySQL Cluster 7.3 DMR2 [download, article]. Needless to say, 5.7’s code isn’t pushed yet to lp:mysql-server/5.7. Of notable mention were the statistics around MySQL 5.6 of worklogs, bugs fixed, etc.
  2. The MySQL Applier for Hadoop which uses the binlog API to stream to HDFS.
  3. The media was all over the SkySQL-Monty Program merger, so today its just links: TechCrunch, ZDNet, ArsTechnica, Wall Street Journal (WSJ), PC World, The H, and in one of my favourite newspapers, The Financial Times (FT).

Did I miss any other important announcements/news bits?

Biggest MySQL related news in the last 24 hours

For me, the biggest news in the last 24 hours so far has been:

  1. SkySQL merges with Monty Program, developers of MariaDB. This of course affects me directly and leads to a change in affiliation in a few months.
  2. TokuDB goes opensource. I think this is really big news. Beyond just the fact that it can now be a storage engine in the main MariaDB tree, I love the work they’re doing to extend it to be an engine for MongoDB as well.
  3. Continuent Tungsten Replicator is now 100% opensource. Now you can extract data in real-time from Oracle, so think of this as Golden Gate without a price. I like this move.
  4. Wikipedia adopts MariaDB. Again, this is important and its also important that we have the MariaDB Foundation in place.

I expect a lot more interesting news to happen in the next 24-hours, so lets see if I wake up at 4am to postulate tomorrow.

Iceland: An experience

We planned for a company meeting to be in Iceland, with just about a month’s notice. You can do that, when you’re a fairly small company. Having been back from London during the winter, where it was snowing in the New Year, I was not exactly jumping high to visit Iceland. Ice? Gasp.

Reykjavik, Iceland It was not exactly easy to get to Iceland: KUL – SIN – FRA – CPH – KEF. Five countries, in a little over a day (would have been about it, had it not been due to a delayed flight from Copenhagen — seemed that the plane was snowed in from Iceland). Upon getting my boarding pass for the last leg, I was asked by the SAS ticketing agent if I’d like a window seat – I naturally replied aisle, and he confirmed my choice with me, as if shocked. Then I realised, there might be some interesting sights from the plane, so I took his advice and got a window seat. Icelandair is nice! (in comparison to Lufthansa). Odd plane though – they run Windows (noticed from the mouse pointer), but the entire entertainment system is touchscreen based. Their magazine made a special mention that their playing cards were mentioned in Monocle’s Travel Top Fifty 2009/2010; they were for sale for 3 euros. I figured I’ll pick it up on the way back. Anyway, the view from the window seat? Completely amazing.

I arrived for the meeting on Friday, so missed a bit of the first day. It was pretty much in time for dinner, when I arrived at the Radisson SAS 1919 (important detail – there are 2 Radisson hotels here), so we headed to a restaurant called the Viking Village. Here we tried shark, had some nice lamb, and tried skyr, which they seemingly adulterated with something rather sweet along the way! Whale meat

The next day, we had dinner at Orange. Before we stumbled upon it, we somehow found that on the 2nd floor, there was also the Malaysian Embassy. Very interesting :) Orange was beautiful, and Monty got us a tasting platter – something like a 5 course dinner, matched with appropriate wines, for each course! We ate like kings. It started with langoustines, then we had whale (which I think tastes a little like beef, maybe a little rare beef?). After that we had beef, and we got some pre-dessert strawberry foam, followed finally by our dessert (another variation of skyr). Being Friday, we all headed out for some drinks, so it was a night infused with lots of salmiakki, whiskey, and beer (this after the wines we had!).

Steak, lobster tailDinner on Sunday was at Hereford Steakhouse. For me, it started with a Cognac-infused langoustine soup, and for my main, I decided that I’d go for a steak and lobster tail. Skipped dessert, as I was pretty damn tired from the night before.

Sergei Golubchik and his horseMonday was an excursion day. We tried our hand at horse riding. These Icelandic horses are apparently quite pony-sized, due to living in extreme conditions, thus eating less. We rode for about two hours, and it was the first time for me (and many of us). Let’s say I now have new respect for horse riders, and those folk at the races. You’d think it was cold; but the coldest part was stopping, giving the horses a break, and allowing the few to have a smoke break. I failed at getting my horse tied once we reached the stables – maybe I just had a stubborn horse (it was apparently a willing horse, not one for beginners). Consequently, I hurt a finger on my left hand, making it rather difficult to type!

Reykjavik, Iceland

The Blue Lagoon. Another photo, showing the steam.

For me, our visit to The Blue Lagoon was the highlight of the trip. I absolutely loved it. This alone, is worth visiting Iceland for. We were told that we’d be bored within an hour. Rubbish. We spent a good three to four hours there. They have a steam room, a sauna (which was a bit too cool for my liking), and of course, the geothermal spa. If more time permitted, I would have probably gone for a massage; apparently you can get one done while in the water. They clay-like mud, is quite relaxing when applied to skin. Your head is above water, but your body is submerged in the warm water. So when the cold winds do come, you still feel quite nice. Lifting your body up a little out of the water is also fun – kind of like “hot/cold treatments”. The experience is truly indescribable – you must experience it for yourself. Before going in, we decided to also grab lunch here – a day of lamb. Well presented, and very tasty, especially with the accompanying wine. Beware the bus journey: it took us over an hour to reach Reykjavik!

Reykjavik, IcelandMonday’s dinner was at a restaurant close-by to the hotel. It was at Laekjarbrekka, situated a little on top of a hill. This place screamed romantic diners and fancy dining. They had good value for money sets, so I grabbed the langoustine set. It started off with a most amazing langoustine soup, flavoured with cream and Cognac, and we moved quite quickly to the main course (pictured), which consisted of langoustines, a langoustine tempura, and a baked/puff pastry item filled with langoustine. Paired with some rose wine, and a few shots of vodka before (I’m told that if you feel a cold coming, you should have some vodka – keeps the gremlins at bay), this was a most excellent meal. Dessert was home-made ice-cream, and again the presentation was fabulous. Truly a restaurant to take your romantic date to.

Anyway, the entire set of photos is on Flickr: Reykjavik, Iceland.

A few other notes:

  • You can buy shark meat at the airport.
  • Whale meat you need to visit Noatun.
  • The airport Skybus is cheaper when you buy a return ticket. But when the flight leaves at 7am, you’ll have to get a taxi to the bus terminal, and then board the bus to the airport from there.
  • Keflavik airport was voted #4 best European airport in 2008. Beware, their security insists you remove all electronic items from your hand carry. Cables included. This process can take some unnecessary time.
  • Credit cards are accepted everywhere – taxis, kebab shops, pizza parlours, the post office, etc. I have yet to see Icelandic krona, because I survived quite well without it. If your transaction is under-1000kr, you may not even be required to sign the docket.
  • The Keflavik airport does not have free WiFi. Power plugs are non-existent at the waiting lounges, but there’s plenty of power at the coffee places before you hit your departure gates.
  • Nightlife is pretty disappointing if its not a weekend. Even on March 1, to celebrate the end of “beer prohibition” (beer was only legal in 1989, afaik), the crowds were not all that great. In fact, not many bars were open, even!

All in all, it was great fun meeting everyone (a lot of old colleagues from MySQL now work at Monty Program), I think the meeting was rather productive (I’ll write about that in another post), and the time outside of the meeting was simply fabulous. Good choice for a meeting Monty!